Mopeds have revolutionised the way in which muggings are being committed across the capital. As of 2017, around 50,000 offences, not all reported, have taken place across the capital. Stolen scooters are not only highly difficult for law enforcement to trace but they also provide gangs with the option of a swift getaway through London traffic if things turn out for the worse. The general understanding is gangs steal the mopeds from the outer suburbs of London and sell them on to other gangs or simply use them in robberies and muggings themselves. The Metropolitan Police estimate approximately 1,500 mopeds and scooters are stolen each month.
As of late 2017, London’s Met has launched Operation Venice to combat this alarming rise in scooter crime. Heading the Operation is Commander Julian Bennett, known for his work against the spate of ‘Killer Clown’ pranks across the capital earlier this year and in 2016. The risk isn’t only there for pedestrians but also for delivery drivers and other moped users who are often assaulted and stolen of their money, phones, and vehicles. The initial hotspots of Islington and Hackney have grown into areas like the City which recently witnessed a moped raid on Chronext in which perpetrators used samurai swords, sledgehammers, and machetes.
To try and halt this epidemic, the Met is trying a number of strategies. More secure locks are being engineered to prevent mopeds from being stolen simply by having steering locks broken. Covert teams are surveilling habitual offenders and this allows the Met to catch robbers red handed. A specialised tactical traffic advisor is also being drafted in to allow the Met to deal with the hazards that high speed chases often present. Facial recognition, similar to the systems used at the Notting Hill Carnival, are also being implemented to limited success. Although this should be a commendable start, only time will tell of these strategies’ effectiveness in reducing ‘two wheeled’ crime.